For many businesses, the choice of an IP phone system is justified by the cost savings generated avoiding expensive long distance phone services that link geographically dispersed business locations. For example, with offices in Manchester, London and Glasgow, calls between colleagues become much cheaper by eliminating BT call charges and using the company's IT network instead.
Furthermore, day-to-day administration, operations and management expenses for non-IP phone systems can add up quickly. The simple need to activate a new phone or to move an extension can cost anywhere from £100 to £250 per event when involving service technicians from the manufacturer. With an IP phone system, adds, moves and changes, can be administered with simple web-based tools.
Because IP phone systems such as Avaya IP Office, use CAT5 cabling to carry your voice transmission, your conversation is sent as data packets over the local IT network (LAN) much in the same manner as email or instant messages. IP phone systems have a technology advantage which translates into the greatest flexibility, economy and feature set of the various types of phone systems.
IP phone system advantages for business include:
- Lower voice networking costs
- Lower equipment administration costs
- Centralised network control and management
- Increased communications capabilities and productivity for remote and mobile employees
- Increased customer satisfaction through the use of distributed customer service-orientated applications
IP phone systems provide remote and mobile access to advanced communications applications, including call management, messaging, contact and call centre operations. These and other applications can be distributed over internet networks, eliminating the need for standalone phone systems for small remote office locations, and can extend significant benefits to remote and mobile teleworkers:
- Business-wide in-house voice conferencing
- Uniformed access to voicemail and other unified messaging
- Enhanced communications with upgraded call feature set extended to remote and mobile staff
- Call and contact centre interactions can be centrally managed and observed yet be extended to agents located at branch offices or working at home (i.e. temporary extra staff during busy periods)
- Travelling employees can access their messages, participate in conference calls and collaborate with team members as if they never left the office
- Efficient, centralised administration enables the management of multiple sites as a single system
The Avaya IP Office phone system enables the highest levels of customer service and productivity through computer telephony integration. Since IP telephony is computer-based, you can integrate phone functions with business applications. For example:
- Bring up the customer record of the caller automatically when you receive his/her call. This improves customer service and cutting cost by reducing time spent on each call.
- Outbound calls can be placed directly from Outlook, removing the need for the user to type in the phone number.
These are just some examples of the added functionality that a system such as the Avaya phone system can give you. Sharing common business directories, contact media preferences and dynamic user presence status over time are voice technology features that are destined to become commonplace.
Hot desking (the process of being able to easily move offices/desks based on the task at hand) is very popular. With an IP phone system, the user simply takes his phone to his new desk, and no extra cabling is required. Users can roam too - if an employee has to work from home, he/she can simply fire up their software phone and can answer calls to their extension, just as they would in the office. Calls can divert to anywhere in the world.
IP phone systems and power
Supplying electrical power to an IP phone can be done in one of two ways: either every phone can has an individual plug and power supply lead (often inconvenient) or the power can be supplied over the IT network using Power over Ethernet (PoE). Power over Ethernet or PoE technology is an established system to pass electrical power safely, along with data, over Ethernet cabling - i.e. over your IT network. PoE does not require new cables to be installed but will require a PoE switch. With PoE, electrical power is supplied over the differential pairs of wires found in the Cat5 Ethernet cables and comes from a dedicated PoE-enabled network device stored in your server room - the PoE switch. Therefore, to purchase an IP phone system, you may also need to have your phone system installer include and install a PoE switch on your order if you do not already have one and you choose to use PoE. This item is easily overlooked when requesting quotes for a new phone system.
IP phone systems and handsets
One thing about IP phone systems is that they are not as handset specific as digital phone systems. In other words, you do not have to use an Avaya handset on an Avaya IP phone system; many different brands of IP handsets can be used with appropriate IP licenses (SIP handsets). On digital systems of all manufacturers, however, you can only use that manufacturer's handsets because each digital system is designed differently.
With our vast experience of telecoms and data networks, we are on hand to guide you through the best solution for your business. Contact us for a straight-forward and transparent discussion to help you with your bespoke business needs.